Hanson antiproliferation method?

Eric Watt Forste (arkuat@pobox.com)
Mon, 18 Aug 1997 18:10:49 -0700

Bioweapons are far more likely to get out of control in a massive
and destructive fashion than nukes or mechanosynthetic molecular
nanotechnology. Weapons built by the genetic modifications of
existing living organisms can bootstrap off of billions of years
of testing of code for ability to survive in hostile environments.
They can also be targeted to attack the central nervous system,
and possibilities for subversion, "wounding" damage (more debilitating
to an enemy than fatalities), and other havoc loom. I will have
to do a lot more thinking about this particular problem before I
will have formed a clear opinion about it... I don't know if I'll
succeed in ever forming a clear opinion of it.

What's scary about terror fantasies of molecular nanotechnology is
the replicative aspect. This is not actually likely to enter into
mechanosynthetic molecular nanotechnology in the early stages, and
thus is unlikely to surprise us much by the time it's actually
here. Nukes don't replicate themselves without assistance anymore
than early-stage mechanosynthetic systems are likely to. But
bioweapons... all the self-replication code is *already there*.
The rest is a matter of finding a bug that will go into the right
vector, and equipping it with the right payload. And the actual
nature of the research dovetails quite nicely out of current
medical research, which is more and more beginning to look like
the crafting of non-replicating chemical and other weapons
against the bugs that like to eat us (many of which, like
cancers, are *part* of us). As Ani DiFranco says, every tool
is a weapon if you hold it right. I wonder how many defense
ecologists are working at the Pentagon yet.

Oh, am I indulging in disasturbation? So sorry. !!!

World government is likely to exacerbate disagreements among the
extremely varied peoples of the world, since government is an
extremely poor method of resolving preexisting differences. If
the world government were to limit itself exclusively to military
affairs and the prevention and suppression of outbreaks of open
warfare (local civil wars, and the like), leaving all other affairs
to substantially smaller regional governments with free intermigration,
then I might assent, but I don't see any path in that direction,
and anything much more intrusive or activist than that is likely
to provoke and escalate more disputes than it settles and resolves.

I think it would be a really good idea for us all to agree not to
have any more major wars until after we get offplanet, ha ha.
Nicholas, were these thoughts by any chance sparked by Eric Drexler's
Extro-3 after-dinner quotation from Leon Trotsky? "You may not be
very interested in war, but war is very interested in you!" or
something like that.

Eric Watt Forste ++ arkuat@pigdog.org ++ expectation foils perception -pcd